Donald Penn

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Mahomes, Penn

The Dolphins have a number of running backs who could realistically earn the starting gig this season. Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore are the obvious frontrunners, and the organization is also expecting rookie Kalen Ballage to contribute at some point during the upcoming campaign.

With several options to choose from, running backs coach Eric Studesville made it sound like the Dolphins won’t necessarily opt for a two-headed (or even three-headed) monster.

“The guy that gives us the best chance to win, that gives the Miami Dolphins the best chance to win,” Studesville told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, “that’s who’s got to be the guy who’s out there for us and helping us win football games.

“We’ve got to get everybody up to speed to where they all know it, we’re all confident in our assignments and then let them go play. And they’re going to sort out what those roles are as we go. I don’t think we have that set right now. We just have to wait and see how it goes.”

As the Dolphins sort out their running back depth, let’s check out some more notes out of the AFC…

  • Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes received a number of endorsement offers during his rookie campaign. However, the quarterback ended up turning down those deals, as he was more focused on gaining the respect of his teammates (instead of cashing every possible check). “We talked about how the first year the goal was to integrate into the team, and the only way to do that is to pay deference to the incumbent veterans and try not to go into the situation with a high profile,” his agent, Leigh Steinberg, told ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “We intentionally didn’t do endorsements that would run in the Kansas City area even though they were offered. We didn’t want him to be on billboards and everything when he wasn’t even playing.” While it sounds like plenty of local businesses want to capitalize on Mahomes’ fame, the signal-caller will surely be eyeing some national gigs if his development goes as planned.
  • During this past year’s draft, the Raiders used the 15th-overall pick to select left tackle Kolton Miller. That selection didn’t sit well with incumbent left tackle Donald Penn. “I’m not going to lie, as soon as I saw the draft pick, I called [coach Jon] Gruden immediately,” Penn said during as appearance on Michael Rapoport’s podcast (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “He didn’t answer, but when I saw him the next Monday, he was joking with me saying, ‘You were ready to kick my a**, huh, Donald?! You were mad.” The 35-year-old, who has spent the past four years with the team, is still expected to start for the Raiders in 2018.
  • In case you missed it, the Dolphins made a pair of moves yesterday. The team signed first-round defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to his rookie contract, and they signed cornerback Bobby McCain to an extension later that afternoon.

AFC West Notes: Chiefs, Ingram, Raiders

Having funneled their pass offense through Travis Kelce for several seasons and having not invested much in their No. 2 wide receiver job in many years, the Chiefs surprised most observers by authorizing a monster contract for Sammy Watkins. The fifth-year wideout’s three-year, $48MM deal — with $30MM guaranteed — is having a league-wide effect, Joel Corry of CBS Sports writes. Julio Jones, who is signed to a $14.25MM-per-year deal, is now seeking additional dollars. And Corry adds Odell Beckham Jr.‘s hopes to become the league’s first $20MM-AAV wide receiver is not a crazy demand anymore now that Watkins has signed a top-five contract without supplying production to justify it. Corry adds that Watkins’ $16MM-AAV contract will become Brandin Cooks‘ floor, assuming he fares well in Los Angeles this season.

As for the Chiefs, Watkins justifying the contract could be difficult, as Corry writes, since the newcomer may be the No. 4 option in his next offense. Kelce and Kareem Hunt are entrenched as the top components of Kansas City’s attack, and Tyreek Hill put together a strong 2017 featuring 1,183 air yards and seven touchdowns. Watkins caught 39 passes for 583 yards last season, and his career-best numbers were 1,047 and nine with the 2015 Bills. Hill becomes extension-eligible after this season and his contract expires after 2019. Those talks could be tricky if he outproduces Watkins this season. Only two teams — the Packers and Broncos — are paying two wideouts eight figures annually, and the Chiefs could be set to encounter an interesting dilemma once Hill talks begin.

Here’s the latest from the AFC West:

  • Melvin Ingram may not be attending the Chargers‘ OTA sessions. The star pass rusher missed Tuesday’s session and is training in Florida, Eric Williams of ESPN.com reports, adding that Ingram cleared his absence with Anthony Lynn. Ingram skipped the start of these workouts last year, but he was not under contract because he had yet to sign his franchise tender. He’s now signed a long-term Bolts deal.
  • Bruce Irvin played as a 4-3 outside linebacker the past two seasons with the Raiders, but new DC Paul Guenther is moving him to defensive end, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). Irvin often played end during his first two seasons in Oakland, but did so in sub-packages while lining up as a stand-up ‘backer in most base sets, similar to the Broncos’ usage of Von Miller from 2011-14. Irvin began his career as a defensive end before the Seahawks relocated him. Now that Irvin is at end, Gutierrez notes Tahir Whitehead and Emmanuel Lamur lined up as outside linebackers with the Raiders’ first-stringers at Tuesday’s OTA session.
  • Also at Raiders OTAs, Gareon Conley participated fully, per Gutierrez. A shin injury wiped out most of the 2017 first-rounder’s rookie season, and only recently did the former Ohio State standout receive full clearance.
  • Donald Penn will be limited during these workouts, with Gutierrez noting the longtime Oakland left tackle is still recovering from Lisfranc surgery. Penn is not expected to be ready to participate fully until training camp. For now, second-year player David Sharpe took the reps in 11-on-11 work while Breno Giacomini opened with the starters at right tackle. The Raiders are planning to have Kolton Miller train as a left tackle to start his career.
  • The Chiefs will be without their backup tight end in Week 1. Demetrius Harris received a one-game suspension for a 2017 marijuana arrest that induced a multi-day jail stay, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Harris established new career-high marks last season with 18 receptions for 224 yards. The Chiefs added former Jets second-rounder Jace Amaro this offseason, but Harris has been with the team for the past four seasons. Amaro hasn’t played since 2016.
  • Clinton McDonald did not participate in Broncos OTAs on Tuesday, and Mike Klis of 9News notes the veteran defensive lineman is still recovering from a March shoulder operation. The Broncos knew of this procedure when they signed him in March, per Klis. He adds McDonald is expected to be ready for camp.

Latest On Raiders’ Donald Penn

Raiders tackle Donald Penn will not face charges stemming from an incident with his wife in late April, according to TMZ. It was reported that Penn slapped his wife’s behind and poured a drink on her head, but the two later issued a joint statement downplaying the incident.

The office rejected this case because of lack of corroboration and on the ground that there is no reasonable likelihood of conviction on the domestic violence matter,” an L.A. City Attorney’s Office spokesperson told TMZ. “Bottom line, lack of sufficient evidence.”

Of course, Penn isn’t necessarily out of the woods in terms of league discipline. Per the terms of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, the league office reserves the right to suspend and/or fine players for improper off-the-field activity, even when charges are not pursued.

Still, the odds of a suspension have dramatically decreased with the news. In all likelihood, the Raiders will have Penn in the lineup when they open the season on Sept. 10 against the Rams.

Penn has started in all but four of his career games with the Bucs and Raiders and he did not miss a game until last year when he was sidelined with a foot injury. Despite the late-season malady, he earned his third career Pro Bowl nod.

Last year, Penn graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 23 ranked tackle in the NFL. In 2016, he ranked as the 12th best tackle in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders’ Donald Penn Accused Of Domestic Violence

Raiders left tackle Donald Penn is a suspect in a domestic violence incident, according to TMZ. Penn allegedly slapped his wife’s behind and poured a drink on her head, which resulted in her calling the police. By the time cops arrived at their Los Angeles home, Penn had already left the scene.

In a joint statement to TMZ, Penn and his wife downplayed the incident:

There was a verbal disagreement, there was NO physical altercation. The two are in the middle of a divorce and it is a hard time for both parties.”

New head coach Jon Gruden shook things up this offseason, but Penn remains a big part of the Raiders’ game plan for 2018. He didn’t have his best campaign last year, but he still graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 23 ranked tackle in the NFL. Quality tackles are in short supply in today’s game and the Raiders badly need to have Penn on the field this year.

Last offseason, Penn had some offseason contract drama with the Raiders, but the two sides smoothed things out in time for the start of the season. In September, they agreed to a two-year, $21MM extension that is supposed to him in place through 2019. The revised deal calls for a $8.35MM cap number this year ($3MM guaranteed) and a $10.35MM cap figure in ’19 (non-guaranteed).

Penn is slated to start for Oakland on the left side with first-round pick Kolton Miller manning the other.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Notable 2018 Pro Bowl Incentives/Escalators

The NFL announced the 2018 Pro Bowl rosters earlier tonight, and aside from determining which players will spend a week in Orlando early next year, the rosters also dictate several important bonuses and/or contract escalators for individual players. Former NFL agent and current CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry has rounded up the notable incentives earned tonight, and we’ll pass those along below. As Corry notes (Twitter link), only first ballot Pro Bowlers who actually participate in the game (unless injured or playing in the Super Bowl) are in bonuses, which are typically paid out by the end of March.

Here are the notable Pro Bowl bonuses and escalators that were preliminarily netted this evening (all links to Corry’s Twitter):

Bonuses

  • Ravens S Eric Weddle, $1MM; requires Baltimore in playoffs (link): Still playing like one of the league’s best coverage safeties at the age of 32, Weddle needs the Ravens to land one of the AFC Wild Card slots in order to earn his incentive. Baltimore appears to on course to do just that, as FiveThirtyEight gives the club an 87% of earning a postseason berth. That playoff appearance will be largely due to the Ravens’ defense, which ranks second only to Jacksonville in DVOA.
  • Bills S Micah Hyde, $400K (link): Sean McDermott can coach defensive backs. After spending years finding gems at safety for the Eagles and Panthers, the Bills head coach has helped Hyde transform into a top-notch DB. Hyde, who inked a five-year, $30.5MM contract with Buffalo in the spring, ranked a respectable 53rd in Pro Football Focus‘ safety grades a year ago. This season? He’s ninth.
  • Raiders G Kelechi Osemele, $300K (link): Under general manager Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders have employed what is often referred to as an “all cash” salary cap management system, wherein prorated signing bonuses are rarely used while base salary guarantees, roster bonuses, and — as evidenced by the number of Oakland players on this list — incentive clauses are heavily employed. Osemele, the league’s highest-paid interior offensive lineman, is signed through 2020 with cap charges north of $10MM in each season.
  • Rams K Greg Zuerlein, $250K (link): While the Los Angeles offense garners the most headlines, the club’s special teams unit has maintained its dominance under coordinator John Fassel, who briefly took over as the Rams’ interim head coach in 2016. Fassel, Zuerlein, & Co. have managed a No. 2 ranking in special teams DVOA, while Zuerlein himself has been worth 15.1 points of field position (second in the NFL).
  • Raiders T Donald Penn, $200K (link): Penn’s summer holdout lead to extra guarantees in the future, but didn’t end with a change to his 2017 salary, meaning this bonus part of his original deal. The 34-year-old Penn is currently on injured reserve, and will miss his first game since 2007 on Sunday. Still, his renegotiated contract now contains a $3MM guarantee for 2018, meaning he’s likely part of the Raiders’ plans.
  • Patriots ST Matthew Slater, $150K (link): Slater has now earned a Pro Bowl berth in every season since 2011. At some point, it’s fair to wonder if Slater is skating by on reputation, as he played only a quarter of the Patriots’ special teams snaps this year. Slater missed more special teams tackles than he made prior to his 2016 berth, tweets Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus.
  • Raiders C Rodney Hudson, $100K (link): For all of Oakland’s problems this season, the Raiders have continued to boast some of the NFL’s best pass-blocking offensive lineman. Hudson is the best pass-blocking center in the league by a wide margin, meaning he’s eminently affordable at $8.9MM annually.

Escalators

  • Lions CB Darius Slay, $550K base salary increase in 2018 (link): As Corry reports, Slay had three ways to earn this heft escalator — post five or more interceptions (he sits at seven), play on 80% or more of Detroit’s defensive snaps (he’s at 97.6%), or earn a Pro Bowl berth. Slay managed all three in what has become the best season of an increasingly impressive five-year career.
  • Eagles T Lane Johnson, $250K base salary increase each season from 2018-21 (link): Depending on Jason Peters‘ health and the Eagles’ plans, Johnson could very well be playing left tackle as soon as 2018. Even with his base salary set to increase, Johnson won’t have a cap charge north of $13.5MM over the life of his contract.
  • Eagles G Brandon Brooks, $250K base salary increase each season from 2018-20 (link): General manager Howie Roseman zeroed in on Brooks at the outset of the 2016 free agent period, and the 28-year-old has quickly proved to be one of the best free agent signings in recent memory. Brooks will earn an $8.5MM base salary — the largest during his five-year deal — in 2018.
  • Eagles TE Zach Ertz, $250K base salary increase from 2019-21 (link): Per Corry, Ertz also picked up a $100K bonus for 2017. Ertz has already set a career-high in touchdowns (eight) and has a shot to set new marks in receptions and yards even though he missed two games with injury. A former second-round pick, Ertz ranks among the top-five tight ends in catches, yards, and scores.

Raiders’ Donald Penn Done For Season

Raiders left tackle Donald Penn will have season-ending foot surgery on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. The Raiders will place Penn on injured reserve, ruling him out for the final two games of the season. Donald Penn

The injury means that Penn will miss his first game since 2007. Although things did not work out as planned for the 6-8 Raiders this year, it was a decent season for Penn on a personal level. He currently ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 23 ranked tackle, placing him ahead of guys like Russell Okung and Alejandro Villanueva. Last year, he finished No. 12 amongst all tackles in the NFL, per PFF.

Penn had some offseason contract drama with the Raiders, but the two sides smoothed things out in time for the start of the season. In September, they agreed to a two-year, $21MM extension that could keep him in place through 2019. The new deal calls for a $8.35MM cap number in 2018 ($3MM guarantee) and a $10.35MM cap figure in ’19 (non-guaranteed).

The Raiders fell to 6-8 with their loss to Dallas on Sunday. They can still finish with a .500 record if they are able to beat the Eagles and Chargers in their final two games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Rams, Shanahan, Raiders

In January, the Rams had planned to interview Kyle Shanahan for their coaching vacancy, but a snowstorm on the East Coast put the powwow on hold, as Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com writes. Days later, the team 86’d the meeting altogether as they pivoted eventual hire Sean McVay.

They told me if I didn’t sit down, they might end up having to move on,” Shanahan said, “and I was definitely OK with that. I think it worked out for both parties.”

On Thursday night, the Rams will get a glimpse at what might have been when they take on San Francisco at Levi’s Stadium. Of course, the Rams are very high on McVay – who is the league’s youngest coach – so they have no cause for regret at this time.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Donald Penn’s new two-year, $21MM extension with the Raiders will not give him a raise from the $6.4MM he was due in 2017, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. However, he did get a $3MM guarantee in 2018 in exchange for signing on for two more years. In 2019, he’s slated to earn a non-guaranteed $6MM, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets. As previously reported, he could get guarantees that extend into the 2019 season based on how well he plays in 2017.
  • Based on his history, it’s likely that Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will look to move the offense quicker with more of a dink-and-dunk approach, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com opines (Twitter link). It remains to be seen what the running back rotation will be like. To date, Joe Mixon and Jeremy Hill have not had a lot of carries while Giovani Bernard has drawn the lion’s share of the work. That could change now that Ken Zampese is out and Lazor is calling the plays.
  • On Tuesday, the Panthers, Bears, Cowboys, Packers, Jaguars, Chiefs, Dolphins, Jets, 49ers, and Bucs all conducted workouts. 

Extra Points: Vikes, Bolts, Raiders, Lions

Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford is dealing with “swelling, pain and discomfort” in his left knee, Chris Mortenson of ESPN reports. Notably, that’s the same knee in which Bradford underwent procedures to repair a torn ACL in 2013 and ’14. Thanks to his latest knee issue, Bradford’s not a lock to play Sunday against in Pittsburgh, though the Vikings are “cautiously optimistic” he will, per Mortenson. At the same time, the Vikes do have some reservations about the injury, Mortenson notes. In the unlikely event Bradford doesn’t suit up, the Vikings’ offense would presumably experience a marked drop-off after handling the Saints on Monday. Bradford was the driving force behind that 29-19 win, going 27 of 32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns. His backup is Case Keenum, who struggled mightily with the Rams last season.

Elsewhere around the NFL…

  • Speaking of left knee troubles, Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett is experiencing soreness there after an ACL tear limited him to four games last season. He’ll miss Sunday’s game against Miami as a result and could sit out “several” more weeks, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Verrett played nearly all of the Chargers’ defensive snaps (63 of 69) in their loss to Denver on Monday, but head coach Anthony Lynn held him out of practice Friday and stated that the corner is “just not right.” Lynn added that he has “no idea” how long Verrett will be on the shelf, only revealing that the player is “week-to-week.” Verrett, 26, is less than a year removed from the knee surgery he underwent last October.
  • Left tackle Donald Penn expected the two-year deal he signed with the Raiders in 2016 t0 be his last contract, according to Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. Penn didn’t show signs of slowing down last season, though, leading him to shelve any thoughts of retirement. He’s now under Raiders control through 2018 after inking an extension Friday. The 34-year-old believes the new pact will ensure that he’ll retire a Raider, which would be a “childhood dream,” as he told Bair and other reporters. Penn, who held out over the summer, noted that he wasn’t optimistic an agreement would come. “There was a lot of doubt (about getting a new deal),” he said. “I didn’t want to hit free agency again. I told them, ‘You know how much I love you guys. Show me how much you guys love me back, and let’s get this done so I can retire a Raider.’
  • Lions second-round pick Teez Tabor was a healthy scratch in Week 1 and, given the team’s depth at cornerback, probably won’t be a factor for a while, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com writes. But head coach Jim Caldwell still thinks the ex-Florida Gator could pay short-term dividends. “That probably would not be an accurate statement in terms of a ‘long-term project,'” Caldwell said. “I’m not certain what that denotes, but that probably wouldn’t be how we would assess it.” Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is pleased with the progress Tabor has made in recent months. “He’s doing everything right and we’ll see him at some point,” Austin declared. “(He’s) much different than when he first got in here. I think he’s a really super smart player. Gets it, can get around the ball, again, just growing him right now.” Once considered a good bet to go in the first round this year, Tabor fell to the Lions at No. 53 after posting slow times in the 40-yard yard dash in the offseason.

Raiders, Donald Penn Agree To Extension

It’s a done deal. The Raiders and tackle Donald Penn have agreed to a two-year, $21MM extension, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweetsDonald Penn

The new deal will give him guarantees that go into the 2018 season. In addition to that, he could get guarantees in 2019 based on how well he plays this year.

Penn was a summer holdout, but he reported to the team near the end of August. The 34-year-old came back to the Raiders without the deal he wanted, but they took care of him roughly three weeks later. Initially, he was slated to earn a $5.8MM base salary for 2017 before reaching free agency.

Penn didn’t quite reach the top ten money he was seeking, but his new money average of $10.5MM isn’t far off from Andrew Whitworth‘s $11.25MM average annual value. His previous deal’s average annual value had him outside of the top 20 tackles in the NFL, so it’s a clear step up.

Over the last ten years, Penn has not missed a single regular season game. Last year, he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 12 tackle in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders, Donald Penn Nearing Extension

The Raiders and left tackle Donald Penn are closing in on a two-year extension, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The deal should be completed by this week, he adds. Donald Penn

Penn held out from the Raiders for nearly a month before reporting towards the end of August. Penn was pushing for an increase over his $5.8MM base salary for 2017 and it appears that he’ll either get a bump for this year or a nice chunk of change starting in 2018.

Raiders brass told Penn that they would discuss an extension if he suited up for team activities. It seems the organization has kept its word.

We don’t talk contracts unless a guy is here,” said GM Reggie McKenzie over the summer.

Penn is 34, but he stands as one of the game’s best offensive tackles. He has been seeking top ten money and the new contract should at least put him close to that. His previous deal’s average annual value had him outside of the top 20 tackles in the NFL.

Over the last ten years, Penn has not missed a single regular season contest. Last year, he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 12 tackle in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.